Morning Report: When Do They Start Limiting Jameson Taillon?

I’ve mentioned multiple times that of the starters for Indianapolis, Jameson Taillon looks the closest to being ready. His outing last night, which was fully detailed here, did nothing to change that thought. In fact, I’d say he is even closer after the game because this was the best that all three of his pitches have looked at the same time. It wasn’t his best change-up or curve, but they were both working on Tuesday night, and the fastball had great command, which hasn’t been the case in every start. The issues with the game were the combo of long fly balls and line drives, as well as less swing and misses than usual.

If he combines the qualities from his previous starts, the high strikeout and ground ball totals, to go along with all three pitches working, then I would say he is Major League ready. That could easily happen in his next start because I think that next step is nothing more than just knocking off the final rust due to missed time. The problem now seems to be that they aren’t really limiting him at all like we have heard was the plan. In his second start, he was on a slightly limited pitch count, and only lasted 4.1 innings. That game actually looked better than any of the three other starts before Tuesday night, but the stats don’t back that up. All three of his pitches were working in that game, and he did a good job of keeping the ball down. His limit that game was only 15 pitches less than the others. Besides that game though, he is racking up innings. The time to limit him is in the minors, not after you call him up to the majors.

We all know Taillon is a month away from the majors, regardless if anyone thinks he looks ready now or after his next start like I believe is very well possible. So with that in mind, you have to believe that they will take this month to give him some type of break, whether it’s a shortened outing, skipping a turn and throwing on the side, or just giving him a extra day between starts. That last part will actually happen this week, as Indianapolis has off Thursday. One extra day isn’t going to make a big difference though, and Indianapolis only has two days off between now and June 13th.

You have to expect some kind of break because at this pace he will need to be limited while in the majors and that will hurt the Pirates later in the season, especially if they’re still playing in October. If Taillon is doing well when he comes up, the last thing you want to do is shut him down in September because he has too many innings. The other side to this issue, is that the Pirates like to get a pitcher to 100 pitches before starting them in the majors and he’s topped out at 89 this season. You don’t want someone coming into a start against better hitters with only 80-85 pitches available. So somehow in the next five weeks, they have to balance resting him with getting him stretched out more, which sounds impossible with an innings limit in place this year.

I’m not sure if that means we won’t see him come up around June 10th in Pittsburgh, but he certainly can’t keep up this current pace and still be available for late September/October.

** The West Virginia Power are doing a great job of putting the ball in play this season. They have 141 strikeouts this year, 30 less than any other team in the South Atlantic League. Somewhat surprisingly, that isn’t contributing to a decent on base percentage. The team has a .312 OBP, which ranks 11th in the 14 team league. Bradenton also has the least amount of strikeouts in their league. They also have a .312 OBP just like the Power, but in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, that ranks them sixth among 12 teams.

** The DSL Pirates started their version of Spring Training on Tuesday with a 7-4 win over the affiliate of the Rockies. The league usually starts up right at the end of May, but there is no schedule for the league yet. I’ve already started collecting some info for the preview and that will continue as they go along in Spring Training. The team looks interesting this season, at least from the bonus standpoint. Almost half of the current 35-man roster received reported bonuses of $100,000 or more.


Source: FanGraphs


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 7-1 to the Cubs on Tuesday night. Juan Nicasio will try to salvage the three-game series this afternoon. He threw seven shutout innings against the Reds in his last start. The Cubs will go with Jon Lester, who has a 1.83 ERA in 34.1 innings this season. In each of his last three starts, he has gone at least seven innings with one run allowed.

In the minors, Brandon Waddell will make his debut for the Altoona Curve tonight. He made five starts for Bradenton this year, posting an 0.93 ERA in 29 innings, with 26 strikeouts, a .133 BAA and an 0.52 WHIP.

Mitch Keller will make his fifth start of the season today. After throwing shutout ball in each of his first three starts, he allowed two runs in his last game. He also went six innings for the first time in that start. Keller has two games with ten strikeouts this season.

Indianapolis has a morning start time, with Wilfredo Boscan on the mound. Jose Regalado is starting for Bradenton in place of Brandon Waddell.

MLB: Pittsburgh (15-12) vs Cubs (19-6) 12:35 PM
Probable starter: Juan Nicasio (3.33 ERA, 12:29 BB/SO, 27.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (13-11) vs Durham (12-15) 11:05 AM (season preview)
Probable starter: Wilfredo Boscan (2.05 ERA, 3:19 BB/SO, 22.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (10-15) @ Erie (11-13) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Brandon Waddell (0.93 ERA, 2:26 BB/SO, 29.0 IP with Bradenton)

High-A: Bradenton (12-14) vs St Lucie (14-12) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Jose Regalado (6.75 ERA, 0:4 BB/SO, 4.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (15-9) @ Charleston (17-7) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (0.86 ERA, 1:28 BB/SO, 21.0 IP)


Here is the first home run of the season from Barrett Barnes. He has picked up his hitting the last week or so after a very slow start.


5/2: Jason Creasy placed on disabled list. Brandon Waddell promoted to Altoona

5/2: Tate Scioneaux promoted to Bradenton.

4/30: Jared Hughes activated from the disabled list. Rob Scahill sent to Indianapolis.

4/27: Sam Street placed on the temporary inactive list. Jose Regalado added to Bradenton.

4/25: Pedro Florimon added to Indianapolis roster. Antoan Richardson released.

4/25: Austin Meadows added to Altoona roster. Justin Maffei assigned to Morgantown.

4/25: Jake Burnette placed on disabled list. Logan Ratledge assigned to West Virginia.

4/22: Pirates recall Jason Rogers. Cole Figueroa optioned to Indianapolis.

4/21: Pirates release Michael Morse.

4/21: Jhondaniel Medina assigned to Altoona.

4/21: Cory Luebke assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

4/20: Jared Hughes assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

4/19: Julio Vivas added to West Virginia roster. Logan Ratledge assigned to Morgantown.



Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including one that has an interesting baseball-related story from after his playing days were over. Depending on your age, you might remember two players born on this date, outfielder Jason Michaels (2008) and infielder Ken Oberkfell (1988-89). Before those two, there was 1919 first baseman Vic Saier and 1914-15 outfielder Zip Collins. The oldest player is the one we take a look at today.

Lou Gertenrich played just one game for the Pirates, manning right field on June 21,1903. The Pirates were short two outfielders due to an injury to Fred Clarke, and regular right fielder Jimmy Sebring left to get married. Gertenrich was a local player from Chicago and the Pirates were in Chicago at the time. He had played two Major League games two years earlier, so they Pirates picked him up for one day and he actually batted second during his only game (remember that this was in the middle of a pennant race, which the Pirates won). He went 0-for-4 and handled the only two plays he had in the field. Gertenrich isn’t as obscure as you would think a player from 1903 with three games experience would be. In 1922, he advertised his candy company on the back of baseball cards that are quite popular now for pre-war collectors due to their scarcity.

Vic Saier was a player the Pirates had high hopes for, but they ended up getting almost nothing from him. Between 1911 and 1916, he was with the Chicago Cubs, playing well enough to twice get MVP votes. After 1916, his baseball career went downhill quick. He broke his leg and missed almost all of the 1917 season. Then in 1918, after the Pirates won a disputed claim over his rights, he left baseball for a year to join the war effort. He returned in 1919, still only 27 years old. He was young enough that the Pirates believed he could still play well after so much missed time. Instead he hit .223 in 58 games and was released in August, ending his time in baseball.

  • Wow. Leader in the clubhouse for Asshole of the Week goes to Andrew McCutchen:

    “He smoked it. It was a knuckleball,” McCutchen said. “It knuckled at me. I did what I could to try and catch it. Whoever scored that an error should be fired. That’s unbelievable.”

    For those keeping score at home, that’s two points for not taking responsibility and at least another three for indignantly blaming someone else while focusing on a *personal* statistic. Nevermind the fact that it led to the game winning hit.

    Good look, Andrew.

    • tried to find it – but seem to recall there was a Churchill quote about true character reveals itself in crisis – or something close. Andrew proves the point. A true leader would have been so embarrassed by his slow start last year that he would have done whatever possible to make sure that did not happen again. He is hitting a lot of fly balls – not many hard line drives. The results are well earned. Good news he could be extended cheap at this point 🙂

    • I thought the same thing. Regardless of whether or not it was an error, he should have just said that he should’ve had it, and acknowledged that it cost them the game, and not worry about personal stats.

      I don’t want to crucify him over it though, he is a good leader for the most part. Just a moment of bad judgement in the midst of another frustrating start to the season.

  • Another thing to decide is if he will take the place of Locke or Niese. At this point I think Locke is the better pitcher.

  • Isn’t limiting his pitch count more important than innings, or am i wrong, whats the real difference between 5 innings 90 pitches or 7 innings 90 pitches. Isnt the important number pitch count not innings. Sorry not trying to be a wise guy, I am seriously asking.

    • I would assume that 90 pitches over 5 innings includes more stressful pitches too.

    • Pitch count is more important, and both the Pirates and John Dreker know that, but to me this is like using OPS vs wOBA; they’re close enough to each other to get the point across, while one is easily understood and the other isn’t.

      The only concrete reason I can think of to limit innings and not just pitches is the fact that they’re still playing real baseball games, that count. Maybe not so much in AAA, but there’s a practical reason you can’t just pull a guy when he hits his number of pitches. Cutting him off clean an inning *before* he projects to reach his limit is just better game strategy.

  • Go Penguins!

  • taylor26554
    May 4, 2016 11:18 am

    Any news on Justin Masterson?

  • Good to see the new-look high-OBP offense managed four baserunners in seven innings against Arrieta compared to five over nine in the Wild Card game.

    OK, I’m done with the mostly-unfunny snark.

    Serious topic/question…has the organization actually said anything about seemingly abandoning the whole “Golden State” thing? Heading into last night, at least by my count, not one starter had been rested more than twice over the first full month. Against some truly awful baseball teams, at that.

    • I think Marte has been rested twice. There were two games where he came in as a late sub or pinch hitter, so he still “played’ the game, but only for 1 at bat and a defensive replacement.

    • To be fair Golden State themselves abandoned that this year. I mean they were chasing a meaningless record so I guess that makes their excuse ok.

      • Didn’t know that, thanks.

        FWIW, I was really never a fan or critic. Thought it was interesting, and made some sense in theory, but wildly overblown overall.

  • I never understand how in a game there is a pitch count, but then over the course of the season they change that to an innings limit. Seems like they should keep a tally on pitches for the season and use that as the guideline. With technology today it isn’t like that would be hard to track.

  • John … What do you think of doing something like:
    1. bring him up now for 1.5 months
    2. Return him to AAA for 1.5 months giving him a break and reduced innings (addressing anything that might need fixed)
    3. Bring him back up for the remainder of the season

    • John Dreker
      May 4, 2016 8:30 am

      Taillon is the type of player that they want him up to stay, so they will start doing something with his innings/pitch count to make sure he can pitch into October. That has been the plan since the start. I don’t think they want to do his limiting in Pittsburgh because that hurts the team no matter how you do it. You would say not having him there means more starts for Locke/Niese, but they would be the ones picking up the slack whenever his limiting is done. Or the bullpen would get more work.

      I think you could see, and honestly should hope to see, him being limited in the upcoming starts, then he builds up to 100+ pitches prior to his debut. Maybe he goes 5ip/75 pitches for a couple games, when combined with the extra off days, gives him a breather

      • Really good topic, John. I enjoyed the write-up.

        Your last two lines really summed it up for me; how exactly *does* this work out? I don’t profess, even a little bit, to know what sort of thresholds constitute a “rest”, but seems awful tough at this point to meaningfully restrict him without a significant break in action.

        Using your 5 IP / 75 pitches idea, even assuming over eight starts compared to a “typical” 100 pitch workload, saves just 200 pitches, or two full starts. Is that really even a dent in the bucket? I don’t know.

        • freddylang
          May 4, 2016 4:37 pm

          The one thing we do know is that the Pirates know how to limit pitcher arm injuries. How’s that for some snark?

      • piraterican21
        May 4, 2016 10:20 am

        With Williams getting closer to joining the rotation, will a six man rotation ever be considered? Not sure that would work, but I guess is an option.

        • John Dreker
          May 4, 2016 11:04 am

          The reason I didn’t mention that is if he is only throwing a simulated game on Friday, he’s not going to be ready for 5+ innings for awhile, too long before it would help Taillon (unless he isn’t up in early June)

  • JT can’t get here soon enough.

    • John Dreker
      May 4, 2016 8:33 am

      well, as I outlined, if he gets here too soon, then you’re either going to need to shut him down at some point or limit him, which means more bullpen innings and a spot start or two from the guys you don’t want to see. He’s not pitching 200 innings this year, especially when the innings become tougher in the majors.